“Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon

My friend Amy at New Century Reading is part of a readalong for the upcoming Michael Chabon book, Telegraph Alley. The guy at Micawber’s kindly gave me an advance copy a few weeks ago, so I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring.

Well, after 60+ pages, I’m taking it out.

The writing feels overwrought, and the cast of characters unrealistically hyper-entwined. I love most of Chabon’s work, but not this. Sample sentence that burped me out of the story:

From the lowest limb of a Meyer lemon, a wind chime searched without urgency for a melody to play.

I understand that Chabon is trying to make the prose blues-y and such, but I’d rather return to Toni Morrison’s Jazz. This feels like Chabon is embodying his own character Moby–a trying-too-hard white guy.

Also, from the inside description:

a NorCal Middlemarch

Really? Really?!

Sir, I’ve read Middlemarch. And Telegraph Avenue is no Middlemarch.

So many books. So little time. I’m on, on, on to the next one. (That’s Foo Fighters.)

5 Responses to ““Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon”

  1. Amy Says:

    It seems this summer that you and I are having a great many Seth Meyers/Amy Poehler “Really? Really???” moments.

  2. Jessica Says:

    I am about 20% in and I’m feeling similarly. It just feels like the sentences are distracting from the story and I’m not really seeing where the story is going and it hasn’t yet really taken me anywhere. I’m going to go a bit longer just to see if I can get hooked because I’ve read all the other Chabon and I figure I owe it to him… but… I’m perturbed.

  3. Ritalee Says:

    He’s written some of my favorite books and short stories of all time (Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World), but sometimes writes books that are completely unreadable (Gentlemen of the Road).

  4. Brenda Says:

    Thanks for the frank review! I love Chabon too but have found it touch-and-go w/everything starting with “Gentlemen of the Road.”

  5. Brooks Says:

    Aww bummer. I’m doing the group read of Telegraph Avenue and I’m really enjoying it. The style is definitely working for me, but I can see how it doesn’t work for others. And I haven’t read Middlemarch, so I’ve got nothing to say about the publisher’s NorCal Middlemarch thing. :)